The NFL and the NFLPA have modified their COVID protocols for those who have been fully vaccinated. In a memo released by the league and shared by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, those who have received their vaccine will no longer have to be COVID tested daily. They also won’t need to be tested after traveling and won’t have to be quarantined if they’re deemed a close contact of someone who tested positive for the virus.
The statement concludes by saying:
“The NFL and NFLPA will closely monitor the impact of these changes and will consider additional modifications to the protocols as vaccination levels in club facilities.”
The memo did keep the mask requirement at team facilities. Those requirements are unlikely to loosen until a larger percentage of players and the population are fully vaccinated.
During the 2020 season, teams swabbed and tested players for COVID outside the facility every single day. The Steelers had a relatively low number of cases and avoided outbreaks that occurred with the Titans and Ravens. The modification of the “close contact” rule is also an important change. No longer would players who have been around those who test positive have to miss several days of practice or even games. That will also reduce the chances of in-season roster chaos where several players missed time while they quarantined.
The memo also encouraged teams to spend more time educating players on receiving the vaccine. Some teams have used their stadiums as vaccine sites. The Denver Broncos recently offered shots to all staff, players, and their family members.
The NFL is not requiring players to receive the vaccine. Instead, the league is using these loosened restrictions as an incentive for players to get vaccinated.
But coaches and staff members considered Tier 1 or Tier 2 won’t be allowed to be near players unless they receive their shots, though there are exceptions for “bona fide” medical and religious reasons.